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Dan Hugo and Flora Duffy captured the inaugural XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship on a beautiful day at Callala Bay in Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia on Saturday afternoon.
Read the race recaps from XTERRA below.
The day started with two-time Olympian Courtney Atkinson from Australia putting a minute into the field in the water, but that lead was quickly taken away…
“Straight in, first mud hole, I got the first big crash done,” laughed Atkinson. “I thought I’d be able to hold a lead but it seems the fire tracks are as hard as the single track here.”
A group of riders with Hugo, Ben Allen, and Roger Serrano bridged the gap to Atkinson within the first few kilometers of the bike, then Hugo “chose a line through a mud section and that was it.” He got some daylight and drove a wedge between himself and the rest of the field from there.
By the bike-to-run transition Hugo had three minutes on Serrano and Allen, and roughly six minutes to Braden Currie, Bradley Weiss, and Courtney Atkinson. Atkinson showed off some amazing foot speed by picking off everyone in front of him but Hugo with the fastest run split of the day by far.
“When I heard I was six minutes down I didn’t think I could bridge that no matter how well I ran but I heard that Benny (Allen) was two minutes up so starting thinking about winning the XTERRA Australia title and pushed,” said Atkinson, who finished three minutes, 48 seconds behind Hugo for second place.
Currie, who finished fifth at XTERRA Worlds last year, stayed with Atkinson for about 8K “but just couldn’t hang in there at the end.” Still a great effort, especially considering he competed in an adventure race in China last weekend.
Hugo’s mate and fellow South African, Bradley Weiss, had another under-the-radar amazing performance by placing fourth overall–his sixth top four finish this year (which include three runner-up showings).
Hometown hero Ben Allen held on for fifth to a rousing applause at the finish line. Allen is beloved in this part of the world (he grew up about an hour away in Wollongong) and he put a ton of effort into hosting and pre-race promotion.
“It’s a win, even though I didn’t win,” said Allen. “It’s so great to see the race go off so well, and the community get involved, and everybody is happy. Jacqui and I, my family, we love the sport and the people and wanted to do our best to welcome the XTERRA Tribe to Australia. The day came out amazing.”
Allen also made special effort to tell of how Weiss kept him moving after he passed him towards the end of the run. “He just told me keep going and kept my spirits up. It’s just classy to have guys like that in the sport.”
Brendan Sexton, an Aussie Olympian making his XTERRA debut, finished sixth on the day and came away with some stories for sure.
“It was an experience, definitely different from anything I’ve done before but I had a great time, it was really fun,” said Sexton, who took a spill that took some skin off his arm. “Those boys are in a different league, so I just kind of let them go and did my own thing. Tried to stay upright but was unsuccessful. I got through it though. You could say I’m hooked, I definitely would like to prepare better next time but certainly enjoyed it enough to come back again.”
For the women it was another amazing performance by Bermudian Flora Duffy who finished far ahead of XTERRA World Champ Nicky Samuels and placed ninth overall. Samuels was the first woman out of the water and an equally amazing second overall out of the swim. Jacqui Slack put together three solid legs of swim/bike/run that netted her third woman. XTERRA Saipan winner Carina Wasle fourth and the “Swiss Miss” Renata Bucher fifth.
“It all came together,” said Duffy, who won the XTERRA West Championship two weeks ago and has clearly solidified herself as the woman to beat this year. “I felt great coming into T2 after a really tough bike course and just hammered the first 2K of the run. I just focused on my turnover because I knew Nicky is a strong runner and I wasn’t sure how far behind she was.”
Samuels was just about four minutes back at the bike-to-run transition, but coming off a cold and without the power she had hoped to put up a worthy fight.
“Having been sick for a week, to finish in 2nd is a great result,” said Samuels. “I’m not so good on the single track and this race was fast, and a bit technical through the bush and over trees. Having been racing World Series for nine years I can’t expect to be riding a mountain bike that well, so am justly happy for the result.”
Slack was the third woman out of the swim more than two minutes back and hoping to catch Duffy and Samuels by T2 but it wasn’t in the cards.
“I couldn’t have done much better so really happy with the effort,” said Slack. “It’s great to have such talent in the field and keeps the drive going to get faster and stronger.”
Renata Bucher had the second-best bike split of the day behind Duffy but Wasle was able to catch her on the run to take the fourth spot.
The entire field echoed the same sentiment, that New South Wales is a special place.
“This area is gorgeous,” said Duffy. “Growing up in Bermuda I’m kind of a beach snob, so it takes a lot for a beach to impress me and I can tell you it’s gorgeous here, that white sand and water is beautiful. I really enjoyed the swim and seeing Kangaroos, it definitely felt like Australia.”
XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championships
Jervis Bay, New South Wales, Australia – April 25, 2014
1. Dan Hugo RSA 2:19:01
2. Courtney Atkinson AUS 2:22:49
3. Braden Currie NZL 2:23:46
4. Bradley Weiss RSA 2:24:09
5. Ben Allen AUS 2:25:35
6. Brendan Sexton AUS 2:25:57
7. Oliver Shaw NZL 2:30:30
8. Alex Reithmeier AUS 2:31:45
9. Jarad Kohlar AUS 2:35:01
10. Craig Evans USA 2:36:39
1 Flora Duffy BER 2:33:07
2 Nicky Samuels NZL 2:40:07
3 Jacqui Slack GBR 2:44:29
4 Carina Wasle AUT 2:46:58
5 Renata Bucher SUI 2:51:19
6 Lizzie Orchard NZL 2:56:24
7 Mieko Carey JPN 2:57:27
8 Dimity-Lee Duke AUS 2:58:13
9 Jody Mielke AUS 3:20:49